One of the session topics was the Personal 'RFP' (Request For Proposal). I have been keeping an eye on the VRM conversation for a while and Personal RFPs is a topic that comes up often as a concept, so i was excited that Doc Searls was leading a session on the topic.
An early post from 2007 on the subject from an active participant in the VRM project Keith Hopper defines the Personal RFP as follows which i think it a good summary of our discussion yesterday:
The idea is simple: have the individual consumer dictate what they want and at what price. Let the vendors who can match this need come to them rather than the other way around. Product marketers currently have an annoying habit of telling us what we need and then inundating us with a sea of unsolicited communications around products we may not want. Removing this vendor behavior would reduce an unwanted advertising burden on the consumer (annoyance) as well as on the marketer (cost). This should decrease total unit costs, and by extension the cost to the consumer.
The idea of the 'Personal RFP' is to have an outbound channel (and we spent time in other sessions at the workshop defining some of those possible channels) that would allow the consumer to explicitly announce to Vendors what they are looking to buy. A simple statement such as:
I want ____ in ___(city,Lat/Long) between___&___(day&time) for $___.
During the session we discussed the different purchasing needs of a consumer- for example when buying a car, you may have a long list of specifics (i want a car that gets more then x miles per gallon, have X cylinders, leather interior, 3 yr warranty, etc.) or something more more simple which might not be as affected but product details (i want Linseed oil).
A consumer may also be at a different point in their purchasing decision- they can be looking for a camera and have done no research on what they need and therefore would put a very generalized statement ' I want a digital Camera in San Francisco by the end of the month for no more then US$250.00' or they have a specific camera model in mind 'I want a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a Car Battery Charger CBC-E6 in San Francisco by Friday May 22th for US$2,550'.
So during the discussion we spent some time talking about the different types of 'requests' that a consumer could possibly want to make of their vendors. Much like in a corporate enterprise 'RFP' process (which over the years btw i have answered hundreds of!!) there could be different types of requests based on where the 'buyer' is such as:
Request for Information- e.g. i would define this as a high level request for information from a vendor to understand what they offer, this could lead to a customized landing page for the consumer for example with the vendor's products
Request for Quotation - e.g. i would define this as providing price points for a specific product that the consumer knows they want- this could lead to a custom page that present a customized 'coupon' for that specific product for that consumer for a limited time
Request for Proposal- e.g. i would define this as the consumer defining their needs in detail based on their intended use of the product and having the vendor identify solutions that would meet those needs and help guide the consumer to buying the product that fits their needs.
One of the things that popped into my head that i certainly would want to make sure this process would avoid would be a 'Request for Spam' (although i realize that some consumers may actually enjoy shopping that way- all about choices!)
There of course would probably be other types of 'Requests' as VRM services are made available in the marketplace to consumers and during the day we discussed some of those models that are being worked on by project members. Workshop Notes will be posted on the wiki.
If you are interested in the topic as it continues to mature and become a reality (and trust me based on the workshop we will be seeing some real life example of VRM in action soon) please poke around on the Project VRM wiki and/or subscribe to the ProjectVRM Blog.
Image|Flickr|CarySkelton's photos|Why? Well the obvious message of the Kinks song titled 'You Really Got Me' but also that Bruce has been taking audience song requests that create this type of view in the front of the stage- personal requests for songs!